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Pacquiao: Bible allows 'responsible' mining

Sec. Gina Lopez talks with Sen. Panfilo Lacson during her confirmation hearing at the Commission of Appointments on Thursday. Senate PRIB/Release

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Manny Pacquiao said on Thursday that the Bible allows people to engage in “responsible mining.”

Speaking at the confirmation hearing of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, Pacquiao cited the Bible to push for responsible mining.

“I want to share my knowledge about the creation of God. We have to take care of the earth, the nature, the environment because our lives are connected with the nature with the environment,” the senator said.

“You can dig copper but if you understand the first line there's responsible, meaning responsible mining,” he said. “But there is 'responsible mining' meaning I do not destroy the environment. I do not destroy the earth.”

Pacquiao, a Born Again Christian, then read Deuteronomy 8:7-9 which says, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys of hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.”

The senator has also cited the Bible to push for the reimposition of the death penalty, a measure that the House of Representatives approved this week. He said even Jesus was meted the death penalty.

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Pacquiao asked Lopez to give consideration to mines that could address their problems as he emphasized that he was not siding with anyone as chairman of the Commission on Appointments committee on the environment and natural resources.

“So there is a consideration for those mines that closed. I am a chair for this committee and I want to be balanced,” the boxer-turned-senator said.

Lopez is facing stringent opposition to her appointment as Environment secretary at the CA. Twenty-three individuals or groups have lodged their opposition to her appointment

Last month, Lopez issued an order closing or suspending the operations of 28 mines, eliciting strong reactions from the mining industry in the country. Industry representatives said the closure orders seemed arbitrary and said Lopez is "biased" against large-scale miners.

Lopez told senators and representatives at the CA that her main criterion in deciding on the cases of these mines has always been “social justice” which she said has been enshrined in the Constitution and Philippine laws.

Lopez also clarified that she was not looking for a fight with anyone. “I don’t want to fight with people. I just feel that we should not kill the resources for our future,” she said.

Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato, a member of the Liberal Party, also on Thursday chastised Lopez and told her that she should always stick with the law in her actions.

She told Lopez that the executive department was tasked to execute laws while they in the legislature were responsible for writing laws.

Sato said that if there were problems with existing laws, the legislature should be told about the problem.

During the hearing, Lopez, who comes from a prominent business family, said that the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources had failed in its regulatory function.

She reiterated her commitment to weed her department of corruption because President Rodrigo Duterte had zero tolerance for it.

“While I am at the helm of DENR, should there be any evidence of corruption, following a paper trail of who did it, they will face the ax,” she said.

Lopez reported that 119 DENR officials had already been charged while 17 had been dismissed for irregularities.

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